Hello and thank you for tuning into this week’s True Style, where my goal is not to tell you what to wear but to help you figure out what you want to wear. My name is Lakyn Carlton and I will be your host for today and the foreseeable future.
As we approach the end of September and, presumably, the end of the longest summer ever—at least for those of us without air conditioning in our apartments—many people are packing up their warm weather clothes and busting out the coats and jackets in preparation for, hopefully, again, for those of us with no air conditioning, much lower temperatures.
But, if you’re from the South like me, or your parents are older than Beyoncé, you probably have some strong opinions about wearing white after Labor Day. It makes sense. White clothes are simply lighter and cooler to wear, while darker clothes tend to be heavier and retain heat. Right?
What if I told you that this fashion rule, much like matching your purse to your shoes or no socks with sandals, has no actual practical reason to exist and was most likely born out of snobbery? Welcome to your Fashion Fact.
In the late 19th century, a bunch of wives of old moneybags grew increasingly scornful of all the new moneybags that were attempting to infiltrate their spaces. They had been millionaires for decades, if not centuries, and you’re telling me these nouveau riche Youngbloods who just got a little change in their pockets could share country with us, I mean them? We simply couldn’t have that.
No white after Labor Day became one of dozens, maybe hundreds of rules meant to separate the initiated from the uninitiated, the elite from the commoners. Everything from the length of sleeve one wore to the opera to daily schedules that demanded different outfits for different times of day were used to spot those who simply weren’t good enough to hobknob with the aristocracy. By the 1930s, dark colors had become the standard for regular city folk. Therefore, white became the look of leisure. White meant you didn’t have to work, lest you risk getting your perfect linen suit dirty. It
meant you could afford to summer in the Hamptons away from the urban grime. The rule trickled down to the middle class via the fashion magazines of the 50s, and soon, regular women accepted that white was simply for the summer. Though, Coco Chanel, the Nazi designer lady who birthed a hundred Pinterest quotes, famously wore white year round.
A lot of fashion rules are based in either classism or racism or, sometimes, both. As a Black woman who’s spent most of her life poor, it can be hard to reconcile my love of fashion with the fact that many of the designers I admire wouldn’t have allowed me to wear their clothes, and that the clothes I can access are oftentimes created with the same exploitation of labor that has kept me and much of my family in poverty for generations. This is why I personally stress the idea of personal style over everything. It’s nice to know the rules, and some of them are rather helpful for figuring out what works and doesn’t work for you, personally, but, at the end of the day, rules are meant to be broken, and true style comes from within. I hope to help you unlock who you are, and teach you how to express your amazingness through what you wear, instead of just settling for what you’ve been told you should wear.
Today’s Pod Top is all about transitioning your look from summer to fall.
Now, I am one of those people who can’t wait til fall so I can really start dressing. I just don’t vibe with most summer clothes, and when staying cool takes priority over looking cool, I shut down emotionally. However, I live in LA. So the beginning of fall tends to still be in the mid-70s to high-80s Fahrenheit, with a steep drop off at night, meaning if I want to be out of the house all day, I’m probably going to need to dress for both warm and chilly weather. I tend to keep my summer and winter clothes pretty similar in color and style for this reason but, even if your looks are completely different throughout the year, being able to carry more of your wardrobe across seasons is a valuable skill that’s easy to master, and a great step toward sustainability.
Naturally, I believe wearing white well into winter is perfectly fine. However, exactly what you’re wearing makes a difference. For instance, any cold weather garment is perfectly fine: a white sweater, white coat, white boots, wear it all. It’s literally not made for summer, so, it’s not going to look out of place once temperatures drop.
But once it gets too chilly, certain fabrics and pieces in white or lighter
shades, including pastels, may not give the desired effect. Obviously you’re gonna wanna skip the sandals and boat shoes but you also might wanna tread lightly with anything linen, seersucker, and anything too sheer or lightweight, especially on the bottom. But, there are also ways to carry some of those into fall through the art of layering.
A lightweight summer dress made of cotton or even chiffon, regardless of length, can be paired with a sweater and boots, as long as the proportions match. I’d say add a cropped sweater and ankle boots for a longer dress, and knee high or over the knee boots and an oversized sweater for a mini dress, as a general rule of thumb, but, experimentation is key, so start there and figure out what works for your look. You can even add a belt to define your waist, or toss the sweater off the shoulder for a more relaxed look.
Sweaters are actually fantastic layering pieces to extend the life of most of your summer garments, and they’re the easiest to find secondhand if you’re into thrifting. My sweater collection is vast and ever growing, with everything from thick, oversized printed ones to cute little cropped cardigans of varying weight for tossing on either alone or as an additional layer. I especially love the look of a cropped sweater over a lightweight wrap skirt, either with closed toe mules or heels if I’m trying to be sexy.
You could also consider layering things under your summer pieces for warmth, and topping with another layer for style. Lightweight turtlenecks or long sleeved tops, especially anything sheer or mesh, can look super cute under slip dresses, structured tank tops, or even sheer blouses, along with your blazer, jacket, or coat. Also consider color: go with richer colors or more muted neutrals with your layers instead of just black. I find a lot of us jump quickly into dark colors for winter and it can make it harder to bring those lighter pieces along whereas something like a khaki colored trench coat or a white boot can make things a little more harmonious while still fitting the season.
It’s important to avoid making your warmer pieces look like afterthoughts. You sort of want everything to be incorporated rather than sitting on top of each other. An easy way to do this is by adding a belt as I said before, but also jewelry can make all the difference. If you’re trying to winterize with boots, venture out from black boots and try a tan, brown or even a colored boot, as a plain black can look heavy and closed off. Try some that lace up, or have a wedge, or even chunky platforms. You can add more detail with tall socks peeking out of the top as well or tights when it gets really cold. And for
those of you crying “but Lakyn, it’s freezing where I live!” I will talk more in a future episode about how to stay warm without pants but, spoiler alert: it’s mostly just fleece lined tights.
The only thing I would generally avoid trying to carry past the summer is florals, they just tend to look a little mismatched with things like tights or jackets. Again, fabric and piece matters, so anything darker in tone or made of a heavier fabric, can work. But if you’re struggling to figure it out, just skip it for now and maybe revisit next year.
That said, on the other side of winter, you can pull those florals out as soon as it gets warm enough for the snow to melt (or, in LA, warm enough to eat on rooftops again), just try adding something edgy, like a leather jacket or some strong boots.
Speaking of boots, for our Q&A today, Christina in Toronto wants some help picking shoes for fall, and wants to know how to incorporate heels more in colder weather. Now, while I love a good stiletto pump, I can admit they’re not practical all the time, especially when you’re more focused on not freezing to death. You can build your fall heel wardrobe with about four different styles, all of which work with a variety of looks.
For partying, I love a pair of knee high boots. With a chunky heel or a low stiletto depending on your skill level, they’re comfortable enough to dance all night or walk from bar to bar, but still sexy and can elevate any outfit, from flirty dresses to tight skirts. You can do suede or leather, slouchy or more structured, unexpected colors, the possibilities are really endless.
For daytime, especially if you’re wearing jeans or a pant, closed-toe mules with a nice block heel are comfy enough but add a little more of a fashion-girl touch. I have a white leather pointed toe pair from Matisse that I wear pretty much every other day.
With longer dresses and skirts, regardless of time of day, you can do a mule as well, but I also love the look of an ankle boot that hits just above the ankle, even better if it’s a sock boot, which I think was a trend that blew up like crazy a couple years ago, but now has potential to become a timeless style, especially because you can easily find one to suit you.
And last, but, certainly not least, I think every feminine person needs a thigh high boot. It’s so easy to make a look more dressy and put together with a
good pair, especially with dresses and oversized sweaters. I also love the look of a tall boot underneath a midi length skirt. Yes, it was huge in the early 00s, but, trust me, it still works.
As for the more conventional pump—which is typically what people are talking about when they say heels, a black pump with an ankle strap paired with some tights is a universally flattering look, appropriate for all kinds of occasions. It lengthens the leg despite the ankle strap, and can make a short skirt look more stylish while adding some much needed warmth. Just look at Fran from the Nanny: that was her go-to.
Now, I can’t end the episode without mentioning my favorite place for all of these fall shoe styles and more. No, I am not sponsored, but, if I were, today it would be by Schutz, that’s S-C-H-U-T-Z, or schutz-shoes.com. When I say every single pair of my favorite shoes I own is from Schutz, I am not exaggerating. From sexy strappy sandals to edgy combat boots to the absolutely delicious pink thigh highs that I am considering selling my soul to buy, they have some amazing and unique styles, super comfortable and well made, most of which cost less than $200. And they’re on Afterpay!
That does it for this week’s episode of True Style. Remember, my tips are only meant to be a starting point to get you on the journey toward finding your personal style, or just give you some new ideas for what you already have. I hope you enjoyed the show and that you’ll join me next week for part one of a two-part series about the journey our clothes make from concept to closet and beyond. Until then, remember written transcripts for every episode are available at truestyle.show and you can submit your style questions using the form on the site as well. Bye!